Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Litha/Midsummer - Summer Solstice


Litha/Midsummer - Summer Solstice - June 21


I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of Summer. My husband often jokes that sunlight makes me burst into flames. Ha, ha. Though he isn’t far from the truth, besides burning easily, I was a heat casualty as a teenager, and my internal thermostat has never been the same. Tip: make sure you bring sufficient amounts of water if you ever decide backpack the Appalachian Trail in the heat of summer. 

But here we are, the earth is spinning and it is the summer solstice, also known as Litha or Midsummer. This is a holiday high on testosterone, a holiday about the virile god. The Goddess is pregnant and the god is at his zenith. Sun worshiping and fire dominates this holiday. And though it is the longest day of the year, as well as a celebration of light, there is still some darkness to be found.

I’m visiting The Wheel of the Year (as they occur in the Northern Hemisphere), the eight seasonal festivals or pagan holidays, also called Sabbats. A lot of rituals, symbols, and folklore revolve around these pagan holidays, and several of the elements, symbols, and themes can be used in Gothic storytelling. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration.

Here are some of the dark themes, symbols and story elements conjured by the Summer Solstice, aka Litha or Midsummer.

Themes:
War
Famine and drought
Forest fires
Anything involving Fairies
Knights fighting Dragons
Magic
Greed over golden treasures
Dragons guarding treasures
Being burnt at the stake

Symbols:
Fire and Bonfires
            Trial by Fire
            Forges
Blacksmithing
Welding
                        Tempering steel and iron
Armor
Swords and weapons
Protection [bon fires were kept burning through the night to ward off evil spirits and the ashes kept in the home for protection throughout the year]
            War – Cannons and firearms; “the heat of battle”
A spit over an open fire  [Grills]

Lemons
Bitter
Acidic
Cleansing
Gold
            Greed
Bells [people wear bells to ward off fairies and evil spirits]
Horses
Steed
Mustang
Horse Shoes
Bees
Honey
Cactus
Earth circles
Fairy circles

Places:
Deserts
Forests
Beaches

Weather:
Sunny
Hot
Extreme Heat
Arid

Mythology, Folklore, and Fairytales:
Apollo(sun god), Ra(sun god), Midas (king cursed with the golden touch), Aries(represents fire, god of war), Pan, Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream [fun fact: Shakespeare mentions the pagan holidays in three of his plays all of them are regarding the summer solstice]; The Oak King – God of light, hands over, or loses his battle to the Holly King –God of darkness; At summer solstice, the ancient Mesopotamians held a six day funeral for the god of plants, Tammuz. Their mourning ushered in the god of war and pestilence, Nergal, for what they called the “dead season”; the christian St. John’s Day also falls on this day.

How do you feel about Summer? Did these spark other related images or motifs? If so, share them in the comments and I’ll add them.

As always, stay beautifully haunted!

♥ Shadow

If you are interested in exploring this holiday further, check out the reading recommendation.


Reading Recommendation: Midsummer: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Litha by Deborah Blake 

No comments:

Post a Comment